W.E.T.C.O.W. Wine Tasting Event #9 – South African Pinotage

SCORING RESULTS – South Africa – Pinotage  – April 2011

Pinotage is a red wine grape that is almost exclusive to South Africa, although many South Africans shun the variety because of its polarizing, ‘un-European’ flavor profile and the care it requires both in the vineyard and the winery.

Created in Stellenbosch in 1925, Pinotage is a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. The ‘Pinot’ half of the name was given priority because of the prestige associated with Burgundy’s great red grape. The ‘age’ part was taken from the end of Hermitage, one of several local names for Cinsaut; its position at the back end of the crossing’s name reflects Cinsaut’s lowly status compared to Pinot Noir.

Like Cinsaut and various other red wine varieties common in southern France (Grenache andMourvedre among them), Pinotage shows its most impressive flavours when grown as a bush vine. It is also thought that the way a vine is trained has a significant impact on the flavor and structure of wines made from its grapes.

As a rule of thumb, the looser, wilder and freer a vine grows, the fruitier and fuller its wines. Closely pruned, strictly trellised vines produce wines that have deeper, more austere flavors and strongeracid structure.

Pinotage wines are famously unreliable, which is something they have in common with Pinot Noir (red Burgundy at least).  During the 1970s and 1980s, when the variety was at its least fashionable and the prospect of tending low-yielding, disease-prone vines particularly unappealing, many thousands of ancient Pinotage bush vines were uprooted. South Africa lost over half of its Pinotage vines as a result, including those capable of producing the finest wines.

A bad Pinotage wine can be an over-tannic, over-acidic affair. If it is coaxed into greatness, during the growing season and during winemaking, Pinotage can be very memorable. It seems to have inherited the promise and petulance of Pinot and all the aggressive, tangy power of Cinsaut.

Outside South Africa Pinotage has had little success, but has retained the air of intrigue nonetheless. It has found a home in New Zealand, where it is grown in several North Island wine regions, including Hawkes Bay and the Auckland area. It is also grown in parts of California and in Israel.

 

The Wines:

 

Fleur du Cap –Bergkelder Selection
Country- South Africa
Vintage -2008- Pinotage- Alchol 13.5%

Price- $9.99

Matured in small oak casks. Aroma of cloves and vanilla. Packed with black and red berry flavors with a long distinctive finish. Climate, soil, altitude and slope orientation are selected to capture as much varietal character as possible. The grapes are grown in the famous Stellenbosch vineyards and made at The Bergkelder, a cellar built into the heart of the mountains. Fleur du Cap believes in minimal human intervention, leaving the wine to develop mainly on its own.

 

Warwick
Country- Stellenbosch- South Africa
Vintage-2007-Pinotage Old Bush Vines 14.5%

Price- $16.99

Warwick Cellar lies on the premium red slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain in Stellenbosch. Warwick was established in 1770 and the winemaking tradition revived in 1964 by the Ratcliffe family. Pinotage is a uniquely South African variety and is Particularly refined and full bodied when grown on untrellised “bush vines”. This wine displays an alluring array of mouth-filling dark berry flavors, a lush seductive texture and an exceptionally long finish. These grapes were hand picked and hand sorted.

 

Pinno- Graham Beck
Country- South Africa
Vintage – 2009- Alcohol 14%
Price – $10.99

Western Cape South Africa- This is a classic example of Pinotoge showing ripe plum and berry nuances with a hint of tropical banana on the nose. The medium- bodied palate is soft and juicy filled with dark fruit flavors that end in a clean finish. (fresh, Plum, berries, Banana, Medium Bodied)

A cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Its wine has a distinctive, gamy, tarry, briary fruit flavors and substantial tanic backbone.

 

Spier Anno 1692
Country- South Africa
Vintage -2010- Alcohol 14%- Pinotage

Price – $9.99

Mouth watering juicy plum and sweet fruit aromas are complemented by hints of tobacco. On the palate, mouth filling cherry and tobacco flavors are soft and accessible, with a lingering finish. Aged 10 months in oak. A unique hybrid grape from Pinot noir and Cinsault.( fresh, Cherry, Plum , Tobacco, Medium – bodied)

A signature wine by Spier Stellenbosch.

 

The Scores:

 

Taster

Pino- Graham Beck

Pinotage – S Africa

2009-$10.99

Fleur du cap-Bergkelder select

2008-$9.99

Warwick

Stellenbosch-Old Bush Vines

2007-$16.99

Spier Anno 1692

South Africa

2010-$9.99

 

 

Al B.

73

81

84

83

Sue B.

69

83

83

86

Eric D.

87

84

89

89

Zelma D.

78

89

91

91

Felix G.

77

80

86

83

Lisa G.

62

81

86

84

John M.

78

77

79

76

Marlene M.

68

72

79

83

John O.

88

91

94

84

 
 
Average Score:

75.5

82

85.6

84.30


One Response to “W.E.T.C.O.W. Wine Tasting Event #9 – South African Pinotage”

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